I've been working on a new type of handmade bead:
They're paper beads. I've tried to make them before, but they were far less successful. Turns out I was missing a crucial part of the processing: boiling. This time I boiled strips of junk mail, then whisked them a bit in the craft blender (just a regular blender I got at the thrift store that I reserve for non-food blending), squeezed the water out of the pulp, mixed a dollop of the pulp with a bit of mod podge to bind, and formed them into beads.
It's pretty fun. The trick is to manipulate them by squeezing and such that you get as much air and mod podgy liquid out as you shape the beads--there's this subtle transformation point when the texture becomes almost clay-like and you know they've passed their individual-clumps existence and they're ready to commit themselves to being a single object of a bead.
I had some packages of Rit powder on standby--it's great for dyeing paper very rich hues--but I really like the particular shade of grey that turned out naturally so I left it alone. They dried for 3 days in front of my dehumidifier in the basement and they are hard as rocks. And lightweight as...paper.
I'll definitely be experimenting with colors, shapes and sizes now that I've got the process down.
Also listed are some new items: